Government should lead by example and target net-zero pre-2050, MPs urge

MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) have urged the Government to "put its own house in order" and set internal net-zero targets far more ambitious than the national 2050 deadline.

The EAC's call to action comes shortly before the dissolution of parliament, which will halt its inquiry into the creation of a net-zero Government

The EAC's call to action comes shortly before the dissolution of parliament, which will halt its inquiry into the creation of a net-zero Government

In a letter sent to Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom this week, ahead of Parliament’s dissolution for the December general election, EAC chair Mary Creagh MP summarised the key findings of the Committee’s inquiry into the creation of a net-zero Government.

The letter recommends that the Government sets a 2030 net-zero target for its operations and estate, bolstered by mandatory carbon literacy training for all staff and the alignment with all procurement decisions with net-zero emissions.

The Government notably spends around £49bn annually on contracts for goods and services, with Defra having last week admitted in a report that just one of the cloud hosting firms it uses is currently providing “accurate” emissions data.

A 2030 target, Creagh wrote, would “set a real example in changing behaviour across business and society as a whole”.

In the letter, Creagh highlighted some of the Government’s successes and failures in decarbonising its own operations and estate since the implementation of the original 2008 Climate Change Act.

The key failures mentioned by enquiry participants, Creagh stated, were a “backlog” in maintenance work and insufficient funding. The letter tells of how the EAC believes that a “substantial” estate management backlog, including £6bn in the NHS estate and almost £1bn in the prison estate, is slowing down investment in decarbonisation.

Creagh concluded the letter, also sent to former Environment Secretary Michael Gove, by writing: “I trust that you or your successor will set out a road map to align the wider government with net-zero emissions before 2050, and will write to our successor Committee outlining your intended actions.”

In a statement to press, she added: “Our future must not be left to chance.

“While the net-zero government inquiry remains incomplete, our climate emergency makes this an area that the EAC may well wish to return to in future.”

Those who gave evidence during the inquiry include Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng, members of the IGov Energy Policy Group, members of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research & Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation, Lord Lee of Trafford and members of  The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education.


edie’s Net-Zero November

This article forms part of edie’s Net-Zero November, a month of content and events to inform and inspire sustainability professionals to push towards net-zero. You can read all our Net-Zero November content here.

Additionally, if you have a net-zero carbon target, or a commitment to set one, that has recently been announced you can add it to our Mission Possible Pledge Wall here.


Sarah George



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